Saturday, July 10, 2010

Ormonde Jayne - Tiare

A lush tropical flower blooms in a classic chypre structure

Tiare, by Ormonde Jayne, is my "desert island" perfume. By that, I mean that if I had to take only one bottle of perfume with me to a deserted island, I would choose my bottle of Tiare.

I spent my honeymoon in Bora Bora in French Polynesia - a beautiful volcanic island with a hallucinogenically perfect lagoon. The tiare flower is the national flower of French Polynesia and related to the gardenia. Visitors to Bora Bora are greeted with chains of tiare flowers and each evening the bed in our bungalow was perfumed with scattered tiare flowers. Tiare is the perfume I often choose to sleep in - the one which gives me good dreams.

Funny thing, even though Tiare, the perfume, features the native Polynesian tiare flower, the fragrance actually smells nothing like what one would imagine a "South Pacific" perfume would smell like. There's no coconut, no vanilla, no sparkling ocean, nothing in the perfume to evoke the place the flower came from. Instead, creator Linda Pilkington chose to take the precious tiare oil she sourced for the perfume and put it into a composition that highlights the lush flower itself and pays tribute to the classic chypre stucture of perfumery.

A chypre is a perfume that begins with citrus notes, ends with a mossy/woody/musky base and usually has some kind of florals in the middle. This family of perfumes is named for the original Coty, Chypre from 1917. The moss in the base is particularly important, lending it a certain bitterness that is divine. Recent  and controversial restrictions on the use of oak moss and other tree mosses by the International Fragrance Association (IFRA) have caused some classic chypre perfumes to be reformulated, much to the distress of perfume fanatics. Somehow, Linda Pilkington has managed to retain that true bitter, wonderful mossiness in Tiare and, as I mentioned in my Woman review, she says she will never reformulate. Thank goodness.

Tiare begins with fresh citrus notes that really lift the perfume. I often get compliments on it in this top phase. Tiare is not a "linear" perfume, it has a progression through different phases of its structure, but all the main elements are there from the beginning. The rich, waxy-petaled tiare, smelling like gardenia and the moss are there behind the citrus at the top but they also take turns at centre stage later, each in their own time. After the citrus fades the tiare/gardenia shines, white and narcotic against a deep green smell, just like the real flower does against its own foliage. The drydown is my favourite part, the moss and wood last forever on my skin and keep me coming back to snuffle my wrist again and again.

I have one, teensy confession though. It pains me to admit this about a perfume I love, but I think I may be anosmic to one of the musks used in Tiare. There is one point in middle of the perfume's progression that I get the feeling I am smelling a hole, a gap, an absence through the middle of the perfume, around which the gardenia seems to peep. It's a strange sensation that goes away later but, nevertheless, Tiare is still my "if I could only have one" perfume.

House: Ormonde Jayne
Nose: Linda Pilkington
Top: Mandarin, orange flower and sicilian lime
Heart: Tiare, freesia, water lilies, jasmine, orris and ylang
Base: Cedar, vetiver, sandalwood, patchouli, moss and musk

Photo: troymckaskle

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